March 24th 1983

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 1
Val using the 3-wire bridge

It rained all night, + was still doing so quite heavily this morning, but after a respectably hearty breakfast, we felt pretty much ready for anything… even the trip back.  The river had been bad enough before – now any thought of crossing the river other than by bridge was out of the question.  So the wet weather track it had to be, this time with truly the weather to match.  And a right plod thro’ the mud it proved to be, too, far worse than before.  Which finally did the dirty on my boot, I reckon.  This time it wasn’t the glue that gave way but the stitches, + tho’ Val did a splendid job of binding it up with string, enough for it to last out the trip, that, I’m afraid, is it for them.  Even with the weather tho’, the walk back was far more pleasant – no worries about time, + extra company.  The hairiest moment was encountering a really primitive bridge.  On the way out, we had encountered a small, virtually negligible stream with 3 stout wires strung from the trees passing over.  It had seemed rather irrelevant to our purposes tho’, as we had merely stepped over the stones.  Now, it was an entirely different matter, since the small stream had become a raging torrent, + those wires represented our bridge.  Steve gave a whoop of delight, + leapt on, then Andy took his turn… Val + I could only look at each other in total dismay.  However, do or die, I thought, + climbed on.  The idea was to walk along the bottom wire like a tight-rope walker, only using the other 2 wires as banisters.  To be fair, in practice it was pretty easy, but I was glad to be at the other end.

…and Chris

And eventually, after much plodding, weary plodding, we were back at the car.  Wet… but safe.  A change of clothes, + a quick drive to the nearest pub, where we demolished 3 jugs + a few pies, before heading to Westport.  There we spent time + money on a little shopping, before moving on once again.  Steve was still with us – an extra body in the car suited us just dandy.  We pulled in for the night at Punakaike Camp Site, about the best value we’ve encountered in New Zealand, with good modern facilities at $1 a head.  The weather was pretty appalling still, so it wasn’t much fun pitching tent in the rain.  Ah well. The place was a bit over-crowded, that was its trouble – there was a large party of schoolkids in, but that couldn’t be helped.

What a difference having some company along made, despite the rain, despite the mud… and both Andy and Steve were splendid companions. And actually, despite both Val and I finding the bridge daunting, we coped with it fairly easily.

  1. Pamela Blair

    Great story! You might work this up and send it to a travel mag. Or Travelers’ Tales, which publishes an annual book with travel stories.

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